China's Premier Denounces Dalai Lama
By Stephanie Ho
18 March 2008
China's premier is calling the Dalai Lama a separatist and blaming him for organizing the violence in Tibet last week that killed at least 13 people. At the same time, the Chinese leader had more conciliatory words for Taiwan, an island China also accuses of having separatist intentions. Stephanie Ho reports from Beijing.
Criticism of the Dalai Lama for last week's violent unrest in Lhasa has now reached the top levels of the Chinese government.
At an annual news conference in Beijing Tuesday, newly re-elected Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made clear who he thinks is guilty.
"There is ample fact, and we also have plenty of evidence, proving that this incident was organized, premeditated, masterminded and incited by the Dalai clique," he said.
Tibet is a mountainous region in western China. After Friday's chaos in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, Chinese officials immediately blamed the Dalai Lama, who says he is being made a scapegoat for China's failure to foster better relations with Tibetans.
From his home in exile in Dharmsala, India, the Dalai Lama countered that China is engaged in what he describes as "cultural genocide" in Tibet. "Whether Chinese government admits or not, there is a problem," he said.
The Dalai Lama says this includes widespread discrimination against Tibetans and Tibetan Buddhism, which has led to a deep resentment against Chinese rule there.
The Dalai Lama says he seeks autonomy for Tibet, within China. But Premier Wen says Beijing believes the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader is lying and is really seeking Tibet's independence.
The Chinese leader struck a more conciliatory tone when talking about Taiwan, a separately-governed island Beijing considers part of Chinese territory. China accuses Taiwan of pursuing independence and consistently demands the island first recognize what its calls a "one-China policy."
"I would also like to stress that we hope to resume peaceful negotiations [with Taiwan] under the precondition of one-China, at an early date," he said.
He says these talks can include the key issue of ending the current state of hostility between Beijing and Taipei.
Taiwanese Professor Chong-pin Lin says people on the island are watching to see how the Chinese government handles the unrest in Tibet.
"The use of violence in Tibet would challenge whatever Beijing has promised to Taiwan, that unification would be peaceful," he said.
People in countries around the world also are watching Beijing's actions. Pro-Tibet demonstrators have scuffled with police in front of Chinese diplomatic facilities in Paris, New York and Sydney.
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